No Drama – Atsumori & Nonomiya

1061 words - 4 pages

Nō drama plays an important role in Japanese literature. It was an important entertainment in the old days. It also was significant in reflecting the Buddhist view of existence.1 Most of the Nō dramas were written according to popular novels or prose works. In this essay, I would like to introduce two Nō dramas, Atsumori and Nonomiya, as well as the respective sources references.
Atsumori is a Nō play written by Zeami. This is classified as the second category of Nō drama, which talks about warriors. The plot of this play is base on the Heike Monogatari, and the story happens in the late 12th century at Ichinotani, the place where Atsumori was killed by Kumagai no Jirō Naozane. In the Heike Monogatari, two large clans of Minamoto and Taira were fighting each other. Atsumori was a member of the Taira clan, while Kumagai was a member of the Minamoto clan. During the war, there was a battle occurred at Ichinotani. Kumagai eventually killed Atsumori when Atsumori was about to leave the region at the shore. Kumagai was sad because after cutting off Atsumori’s head, because he killed a gentle high-born person, who was as young as his own son. This incident had strengthened Kumagai’s will to become a monk.2
The Nō play of Atsumori starts after the incident. By that time, Kumagai had already become a monk named Renshō. He went back to Ichinotani in order to comfort the spirit of Atsumori. He met a group of young reapers at the place. A youth in the group claimed that he has a tie with Atsumori, and told Renshō to pray for the spirit of Atsumori. Renshō also asked a villager about Atsumori’s story, and he prayed for the spirit at night. Finally, Atsumori’s ghost came to Renshō. Atsumori no longer hate Renshō, and he asked Renshō to pray for his release.
In this Nō drama, the original work in Heike Monogatari served as a background of the story. So elements of the story such as place and characters were pretty much fixed. However, the personalities of the main characters are presented differently in the Nō play, which tend to depict emotions more exquisitely. In Renshō’s case, since he was changed from a warrior to a monk, it is no doubt that the depiction would have been quite different. For Atsumori, in the original work, Atsumori was not described in very detail. He was just depicted as a high born young man, talented with musical skills, and brave when encountering enemies. But in the play, there are more emotions shown through the songs, as well as the conversation between Renshō and the Villager. Atsumori was suppose to leave for home with the clan, but because he left his flute in the battlefield and he hated if the enemy would have take it, so he went back to take his flute. That made him missed the crew, and he was left behind. “…he was riding into the sea, hoping to swim his horse out to the ships…” This showed that he actually would love to chase his companions, he wanted to join them and go back home together after the victory....

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